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Arkansas Society of Freethinkers Message Board Parenting › Parenting in the bible belt

Parenting in the bible belt

A former member
Post #: 1
I'm curious how/if other parents deal with the occasional taunting their children must endure when other children find out they don't believe in god. My children have been brought to tears over such taunting a few times and I'm almost at a loss for how to deal with it. My 11 year old is pretty numb to it now but it's still a very sensitive subject for my 9 year old.

I've always advised them not to bring it up just to avoid these kinds of situations. But it usually slips when the boys say something like "Oh my god!" Then they get the whole, "you said God's name in vain!" crap. Whereby they come back with, "well I don't believe in god so I can say it if I want".

This is when all hell breaks loose and they realize they shouldn't have said anything at all. One particular time this occurred and the kids "tattled" on my son to the teacher and even she was asking my son, "You don't believe in God?!" I told my boys that if it happened again the next day I would be speaking with the principle. These occurrences seem to only last that day but are still very upsetting to my boys.
Dave B.
user 13155367
Sherwood, AR
Post #: 26
I found these websites. Maybe they can help.

Parenting Little Heathens
A former member
Post #: 1
Hi Joan,

My husband is in the Air Force too. We have an 8 y/o son, live in Cabot, and run into the same exaspering problems! DH is due to retire soon, and personally I'm ready to just get the hell out of Arkansas, lol, especially with the recent crazy talk about using the Bible as a "history" book in public schools. But in the meantime, I think it would do our kids (and us!) a world of good to be around other kids going through the problems unique to non-religious families living in the bible-belt.

Almost all of the ASoF's meetups and events are in downtown Little Rock, a fairly long round trip from Cabot and we don't have a babysitter, which is mostly why we haven't yet gotten involved (a lame excuse, I know, LOL). I'd been hoping ASoF might eventually organize some sort of regular family-oriented meet-up, or maybe some sort of child care co-op at the library during the monthly discussion group where our kids could engage in freethinking stories, movies, crafts, etc. while participating parents took turns enjoying the adult discussion group.

I don't know the LR/NLR area at all, and have never been to the LR library, and wouldn't know where to begin to organize something like this on my own -- but I DO want my son to make some freethinking friends, and to simply learn more about Freethought, and I'm ready to work towards that. I do have a freethinking friend who runs the children's progam at the Jax library, and another who teaches at a local elementary school, both of whom I could at least get suggestions/advice from (and hopefully enlist the services of occasionally, lol), and I know of a few other freethinking families who might be interested. Surely between all of us we could get *something* going for our dear little heretics, LOL! (Not until after all of the holiday madness of course.) XD

Would anybody else be interested?

user 4295978
Grand Rapids, MN
Post #: 135
A good resource for ya'll would be Dale McGowan's book:

"Parenting Beyond Belief // On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion"

...which could be the focus of a freethought parenting book club...? It's available on Amazon, and includes a study guide for small group discussions.
A former member
Post #: 2
Thanks for the links guys. @ Kim, I like your ideas involving the kiddos. Yes, Cabot is a ways from Downtown LR. I feel sorry for you that you live there LOL. We purposely did not move to Cabot due to the lack of diversity and the stories of prejudice we've heard. We actually live near McCain Mall if you're familiar with that. However, Arkansas is very religious regardless of where you go and each has its own challenges.

I know we don't know each other but I have a sitter coming to my house tomorrow so my husband and I can finally attend the Vino's get together. I have some serious venting to do LOL. You're more than welcome to use her and he can hang out with my boys. It would be a late night for him so that might not work for you guys. I also have sitters in Jacksonville that are really good too if you need one in the future: )

We're also going to the new member pot luck next week and I'm bringing my boys to that one. It's supposed to be at Dave's house in Sherwood I believe.
Dave B.
user 13155367
Sherwood, AR
Post #: 27
Kim & Joan,
Vino's is open to any age (I just called and checked), so you're welcome to bring kids there. Like Joan said, the next new member pot-luck is at my house in Sherwood. Joan's boys (9 & 11) and Paige Parham's daughter (10) will be there, so your 8 yr old will have someone to play with. We'd love to have you! Ummm... I'm sure you're all responsible parents and won't let them destroy my house! confused haha.

In the last couple of months we've been re-energizing the group and creating new events - Almost all of them family friendly. A freethinker "Sunday school" is something we've been thinking about. If we can generate enough interest and participants, we can make it happen. Kim, please tell your JAX library friend and elementary school teacher friend about us.
A former member
Post #: 2
Okay, you guys talked me into it (sometimes it takes a little prodding to get me to come out of my shell, LOL)! I just RSVP'ed for the new member pot luck dinner on the 15th! biggrin *bounce bounce bounce*

@Dave, yes, we will do our best to keep our son from destroying your home, LOL. XD I'll bring some games or movies or something to help keep the kiddos occupied. And thank you for calling Vino's, I had been wondering if it was okay to bring kids there!

@Drew, thanks for the link, it looks like a great book! I do have "Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief" by McGowan, Matsumura, Metskas, and Devor... though I haven't finished reading it yet. *smacks hand* I'll have to see if it has any info about kid's groups too.

@Joan, yes, I sometimes I do regret moving to Cabot, LOL! In hindsight, I would definitely like to live closer to LR. But when we PCS'ed back here 2-1/2 yrs ago we spent two weeks driving each other crazy in a hotel room (w/ a young bored child and large dog) because we had trouble finding a house with a fenced yard that would accept large pets, so we jumped on the first thing we found. I look forward to meeting you and your family at the pot luck and exchanging relgio-neighbor stories, lol. Oh and thank you for the babysitter offer. I'm behind on my email (as always) and missed the offer for Vino's night, but I'll definitely keep the offer in mind in the future. :)

A "Sunday school" program sounds ideal! More than anything I want my son to be part of a like-minded community, and have a more organized way to learn more about freethought (I try but I'm afraid I tend to confuse or scare him more than anything, lol). XD

Can't wait to meet everybody! biggrin
Kyle S.
user 10261817
Monument, CO
Post #: 76
I didn't see this conversation the first time around... sorry for being late!

I would be happy to help organize a Secular Youth Group and show the tykes some fun events. Jesse and I took their boys indoor rock climbing the other day and we all had a blast. I also taught my friend's five year old daughter multivariable algebra in about five minutes one time. Talk about pooling babysitters, or maybe just bringing one to the library for Sunday meetings were brought up before too.

Does anyone have a count on how many kids we have from parents in the group?
A former member
Post #: 16
I have 2 boys, and we would LOVE to do something like a youth activity/group!

A former member
Post #: 16
My kid got singled out for not standing to pledge the flag. This was never a problem in elementary school here in LR, but somehow this *finally* became an issue in High School with his Spanish teacher.

She didn't like his attitude, so she "lost" his homework and flunked him. Sometime later we talked to the prinicipal at the high school. He said you should have come to me sooner. All students have rights, too that don't disappear when you cross into the school.

Years earlier, we did have the religious flap at elementary school when my daughter was sent to the principal's office. After some of the same "you don't believe in god" claptrap, the principal asked "who do you worship?" The answer was "my cat.. She's the Messiah". The answer was underscored when my kid and the principal were at the British Museum on a school sponsored trip the following year. The British museum exhibits a bronze sculpture of Bastet, the Egyptian cat-headed goddess, and several mummified cats, which my daughter politely pointed out to the principal !

I wouldn't have had the presence of mind to do that, but I'm proud that my daughter did.
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